Women’s Empowerment

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India is a dichotomy on many issues especially women’s issues. There is a big push for female empowerment which was evident in the school. The young women we interacted with were very academically successful, well spoken, and aware of a variety of global issues. We had the privilege of attending a Women’s Empowerment Panel Discussion where 4 students had been asked to give speeches on the topic and then lead a question and answer session.

Indian culture is a patriarchy. Many students not only live with their parents but also their paternal grandparents and dad/grandfather generally have the final say on issues although many girls are starting to speak up more in the home. This is not the norm though. The two big things that I noticed were:  most men that I saw in the 3 cities that we were in wear western style dress. In Bangalore and Kolkata, women wear saris or salwar kameez which is the more traditional dress. The few women wearing western business attire work for the multinational tech firms or were flight attendants in uniform.  In Delhi, some women wore skinny jeans, shirts, and heels and I even saw a few women wearing shorts. I wonder why women wear traditional dress and the men don’t. Because we flew from Bangalore to Kolkata and then from Kolkata to Delhi, we had to go through airport security for domestic flights. There are “women only” lines for going through security and I was not allowed to go through the men’s line in Kolkata and had to walk over to the women’s line to be body scanned with the hand scanner by a female TSA type officer. If the country is pushing for more equality and empowerment, why are there still separate lines? We also experienced this going into different cultural attractions and restaurants. Apparently there are also female only train cars for train travel. How is the concept of “separate but equal” going to bring true equality to both genders in India?

Here are 2 articles that take the issue more in-depth.

Gender Equity Issues in India

Women’s Rights Issues in India: Problems and Prospects

Indian School Visits, Bangalore, India June 9 & 10, 2015

Govt School Vasanthnagar 3 June 9 Govt School Vasanthnagar Morning Assembly 2 IMG_0638 (2)Shastry Memorial English School grade 9 social studies classShastry Memorial Englislh School students

Here in Bangalore, our in-country education consultants are Maya Menon and Indira Subramanian. Maya is the Founding Director and Indira is the Head of Content Development for the Teacher Foundation. The Teacher Foundation’s vision is “To make schools enabling environments for all students by empowering educators to become energetic, effective, reflective practitioners and life-long learners.” (The Teacher Foundation)The Foundation works with teachers and schools to expand professional development opportunities so that teachers are “enabled and inspired” in changing their instructional practice from the traditional to the exceptional.

Before we headed out to visit schools, Maya gave an excellent overview of the Indian Education system so we could better understand why schools are the way they are.

Important points from Maya’s presentation to consider:

  1. India is complex, multiple realities exist.
  2. India is grappling with many challenges.
  3. India is a land of tremendous potential and opportunity.
  4. 2 billion people with the world’s youngest population with 450 million children under the age of 18 who want to learn.
  5. 22 Modern Indian languages coexist; 1576 mother tongues.
  6. Schools teach in 70 languages
  7. India does not have a stand alone Department of Education. It is part of the Ministry of Human Resources.
  8. Each Indian state also has ministries that oversee education.
  9. Parents can choose between government schools and private schools.
  10. Right to Education Act that states education is a fundamental right and that all children between the ages of 6 and 14 must be in school.
  11. Teacher shortage. Many teachers are untrained or poorly trained and it is a “noble” profession with little status and is female dominated.
  12. Administrators and Teacher Educators don’t know what is happening in the classrooms.
  13. Large class sizes that go beyond the 1 to 30 teacher/student ratio as stated by law.
  14. Teaching & learning English is the highest priority.

In both schools we observed, like in the US, that teachers do the best they can with the system they are in.  Indian teachers must teach from the required textbooks and that doesn’t leave much room or support for creativity. Much of the teaching and learning was rote in nature and the students respectfully complied and were eager to show us their books and materials. One English teacher at the Vasanthnagar School used additional flash cards that she created herself, modeled the definitions of action verbs connected to the text, and engaged in a short discussion with the students.  Her lesson was enthusiastic and fun which engaged the students. The English class that I observed at the Shastry School was taught straight out of the text with the teacher as the expert with students following along. Students were very compliant and excited that we were in class but this lesson was more indicative of the standard teaching and learning in Indian classrooms. The Vasanthnagar classrooms were small and dark with fixed benches, few materials but had beautifully painted alphabets in multiple languages, multiplication tables, and so forth on the walls.  At Shastry, all of the classroom walls were bare and the interactive space was the chalkboard and teacher platform at the front of the room.   I look forward to my week of observations at the Shri Shikshayatan School in Kolkata to learn more about day to day teaching and learning.

What’s on Indian TV?

June 8, 2015               Bangalore, India                               Lemon Tree Hotel

After 20+ hours of travel 15 fellow teachers and I finally arrived at the Lemon Tree Hotel at 4am. After some  much needed sleep, we regrouped for our opening presentation, had dinner, and then I headed back to my room at 9pm for bed.

There is a nice Samsung flatscreen tv in my room so I was really curious to find out what is on Indian television here in Bangalore and wondered how globalized Indian media is.  By Indian standards, Bangalore is a smaller city. By small, I mean slightly larger than New York City with a population approaching 10 million people. Kolkata, Mumbai, and New Delhi are much larger.

Beginning at 9:30pm IST I started flipping through the channels.

News is big here. The English news channels included:

CNN

Times of India

Channel News Asia

New Delhi TV News

CNBC

Aljazzera

And at least 7 other non English news channels.

(There are also 3592 different newspapers published in 35 different languages)

Being a big CNN viewer at home, I was curious to see what CNN’s lead stories were:

Migrants in the Mediterranean

ISIS in Iraq

G7 Summit in Germany

Turkish Elections

FIFA Corruption Scandal

The big prison escape in Clinton, NY

Excessive Use of Police Force to Breakup a Teen Pool Party somewhere in Texas.

The presentation of the new stories was more “news” than entertainment with longer and more in-depth reporting that what we generally see in the U.S.  It was rather refreshing not to see continued coverage of Caitlyn Jenner or the Duggar scandal.

On I went with my channel surfing…

While movie channels with Bollywood films are big, there are Hollywood films being broadcasted in equal number including:

The Matrix Reloaded

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

GI Joe and GI Joe Retaliation

Hercules

“Regular” TV channels included many Indian sit-coms and dramas but Grey’s Anatomy, The Mentalist, Law & Order, Scooby Doo cartoons, Doctor Who, India’s version of The Voice, and Britain’s Got Talent, were also available.

There wasn’t much in the sports department just Cricket and US Professional Wrestling. CNN sports update lead story was on LeBron James and the Cavs in the NBA finals, followed by the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer.

There is TLC in India. So far, I have not seen evidence of Honey Boo Boo, 19 Kids and Counting, Say Yes to the Dress, or My 600lb Life I wonder if the Indian audience has similar “reality” shows focusing on certain demographic groups that equally fascinate and disgust the viewing audience.

Discovery Channel, FX, MTV India, Comedy Network (where is the Daily Show??), Nickleodean, Fox Life, National Geographic, History Channel, and Animal Planet were all had multiple channels of programming.

What does this all mean?

Major media conglomerates have significant exposure in the world’s second most populous country even when many people out in more rural areas have no access to tv, newspapers, or electricity. Only half of Indians own televisions but it is the 3rd largest television market in the world with over 700 satellite tv channels (India Mirror). “The Indian Media & Entertainment Industry grew by US$12.9 billion in 2009 to US$14.4 billion in 2010, a growth of 11 per cent, according to a report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and research firm KPMG.(Wikipedia). Continued growth is predicted as infrastructure expands and programming continues to capture viewers in a very competitive market.  The question remains is what impact will “western” vs. “eastern” programming have on the further globalization of India?

Welcome to Global Roads

This website was designed as part of my participation in the Teachers for Global Classrooms program.

The focus of TGC is for teachers to study and implement broader ways of integrating global education in secondary classrooms. The program, courses, and travel is all funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is administered by IREX (International Research and Exchanges Board).

Global education is a vital part of any student’s preK-12 education program and this site provides resources, materials, and experiences to support teachers and students on their global journeys in and outside of the classroom.

Mt Rainier

Mt Rainier

We live in an increasingly globalized world and students need a variety of opportunities to develop and practice global competencies at all grade levels and in all content areas.  The more we learn, think, and understand how other people in other cultures in other parts of the world live and work the better equipped we will be in addressing conflict and controversy. According to The Asia Society’s Book, Educating for Global Competence, “Global competence is the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance.”  If each person can add one drop in the bucket of an issue of global importance to him or her, the bucket will quickly fill, and change will happen.

This blog is not an official U.S. Department of State blog. The views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Teachers for Global Classrooms Program, IREX, or the U.S. Department of State.